Nokia's popular N97 was recently sent on a diet and fitness program and came back in the lean and mean guise that is the N97 mini. Now measuring 113 x 52.5 x 14.2 mm, the mini is only somewhat smaller than the N97 (117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm). The same goes for its weight (138 g vs 150 g), but the difference in hand is more noticeable here.
Symbian and co.
The same OS (Symbian OS v9.4 Series 60 rel. 5) and processor (ARM 11 @ 434 MHz) doing duty in the N97, also runs the show on the mini. Although performance during general usage is respectable, there is a noticeable dip while multitasking. The N97 mini can on occasion also be unresponsive when selecting an application and our unit crashed a few times.
Just like its big brother the mini also boasts a multitude of connectivity options such as HSDPA, easy Wi-Fi setup and Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP. Also onboard is aGPS which keep you on track with Nokia's free Maps that boasts turn-by-turn voice guided navigation. It's also easy to configure your personal email (like Gmail and Yahoo! mail) but business email (via POP account) takes a bit more effort.
Complimenting the host of connectivity options is the great variety of office and business functionality on offer, including QuickOffice for viewing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, an Adobe PDF document viewer as well as a Zip manager. The one drawback is that the N97 mini doesn’t offer any document creation or editing out of the box. For this you need to download QuickOffice Premier 6 which will set you back about R150.
Typing these documents is easy and effortless using the phone’s three-row QWERTY keyboard that is located underneath the sliding tilt display. The space button is still located in the same funny position, aligned on the right, as opposed to being centred like on your PC keyboard. Nevertheless it is still a joy to use and the directional pad that Nokia cut from the N97 hardly goes amiss.
The N97 mini makes use of the same resistive touch-screen with a 640 x 360 resolution, but the display real-estate has been reduced from 3.5" to 3.2". You can easily customise the layout of the home-screen by choosing the widgets you want to be displayed on it. The troubles we experienced on the N97 is still unfortunately present on the mini, most noteably the touch response that was somewhat lacking.
Another casualty of the mini tag is the phone’s storage, as the 32 GB of storage that the N97 provides has been reduced to 8 GB, but it’s still more than enough to store all your music, videos and also photos, captured with the really decent five megapixel camera equipped with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus and dual LED flash.
Although the ARM processor can do with some extra juice, overall the N97 mini's hardware is up there with the best, but its operating system definitely isn’t. To remember is that although the N97 mini was released quite recently, it's basically a N97, which debuted in SA almost a year ago. Compared to more recent offerings from other manufacturers, the N97 mini's interface looks aged.
We're also not too sure about the pricetag of R5999 - it seems a bit steep and puts the N97 mini on par with phones like the HTC Legend. If we had a choice we would know which one we'd pick.